African American Lincoln Hills Online Exhibit Primary Image

Lincoln Hills 100th Anniversary

The Lincoln Hills Development Company was founded by E.C. Regnier and Roger Ewalt in 1922. This is the year the two African American men envisioned a resort in the Mountains that would serve as an oasis for those suffering from racism. The only leisure destination created by and for African Americans West of the Mississippi saw a decline in visitation during the Great Depression, but continues to be used today by families with historic cabins.

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of Lincoln Hills, History Colorado is partnering with individuals from around the state to produce a series of programs and events to highlight the unique history of Lincoln Hills, and the Black experience in Colorado.

Lincoln Hills was founded in 1922 by E.C. Regnier and Roger Ewalt to serve as a resort community by Black Americans, for Black Americans. Located less than forty miles west from Denver in the Coal Creek Canyon, the development represented much for the Black communities of Colorado's growing cities. At a time when the fight against segregation was a constant battle and when the Ku Klux Klan was at its zenith, Lincoln Hills was the only Black resort in the Mountain West.

The mountain lots at Lincoln Hills attracted people from Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Missouri, Illinois and Oklahoma, among others. Black community leaders in Denver enthusiastically endorsed Lincoln Hills, and many Black families, barred from sending girls to segregated YMCA camps, sent their daughters to Camp Nizhoni, which was founded on land donated by Lincoln Hills in 1924.

All of this not only ensured access to the outdoors for Black families, but also carried political weight by subverting the near-universal exclusive racial norms of the time, when white Americans made both formal and informal claims to public land and enforced segregation across the nation.

Like many other resort communities, Lincoln Hills experienced a sharp downturn during the Great Depression. Many individual properties were lost or abandoned, and later the Civil Rights Act of 1964 opened new recreational opportunities to Black people, drawing many of those who remained away from Lincoln Hills.

Over the following years Lincoln Hills passed through various hands. Today, it is managed by Lincoln Hills Cares, a nonprofit founded by Black Denver developer Matthew Burket and Robert F. Smith.

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